Posts Tagged: Rob Bennaton
To get acquainted with the people at each ANR location, Mark Lagrimini, vice provost of research and extension, has been visiting research and extension centers and UCCE county offices and touring the facilities.
“I'm impressed with how passionate and dedicated you are to helping people,” said Lagrimini to UCCE Contra Costa staff after listening to their project updates. He has been impressed with the work he has seen at all of his ANR visits.
On Sept. 6, Lagrimini visited Hopland Research and Extension Center, three weeks after the River Fire consumed about two-thirds of its property.
“While the River Fire damaged parts of the center, none of the main buildings, residences, livestock nor staff were hurt by the fire,” said John Bailey, Hopland REC interim director.
Scientists are invited to a site tour on Oct. 19 to learn more about research opportunities at Hopland REC.
“With Hopland REC's extensive pre-fire historical data, plus immediate post-fire, pre-rain observations that we are collecting, we have the foundation to support relevant and timely research on the effects of fire and mechanisms of recovery,” Bailey said.
AVP Wendy Powers and Mark Bell, vice provost of Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs, are joining Lagrimini for many of the visits to learn the latest about UCCE research and outreach and to answer questions from staff.
On Sept. 11, Rob Bennaton, UCCE director in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, introduced Powers, Lagrimini and Bell to UCCE staff in their Hayward offices, then took them to West Oakland to tour City Slicker Farms. UCCE Master Gardeners and 4-H members partner with City Slicker Farms, teaching people how to grow food at the site.
“Success to us is putting food where people need it and giving them the skills to grow food,” said Rodney Spencer, executive director of City Slicker Farms.
In Concord, Marisa Neelon, UCCE nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor in Contra Costa County, gave Powers, Lagrimini and Bell a tour of the new office space, which includes space for Master Garden volunteers, a kitchen for nutrition educators to prepare food and a lab for farm and IPM advisors to store and analyze samples.
Staff from each unit delivered a presentation about their current projects for the ANR leaders, who were joined by Humberto Izquierdo, agricultural commissioner for Contra Costa County and Matthew Slattengren, assistant agricultural commissioner.
Charles Go, 4-H youth advisor, and Adan Osoria, EFNEP community nutrition educator, described how 4-H and EFNEP teamed up for 4-H2O, an after school project aimed at reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and increasing water consumption to improve community health and wellness. They launched 4-H2O at John Swett High School in Crockett. At the request of 4-H members, the local school board approved hydration stations and instructed the schools to provide water at meal times, Go said.
Andrew Sutherland, Bay Area urban IPM advisor, described his research on baiting for cockroaches, subterranean termites and yellowjackets and outreach to educate pest control professionals to practice IPM in schools and multi-unit housing.
“I appreciate the work Andrew does,” said Izquierdo, noting that there is a need for pest management education, especially among the county's urban and immigrant populations.
After seeing all of the presentations, Bell said, “The enthusiasm you bring to your job is inspiring.”
After the visit, Powers wrote in her ANR Adventures blog on Sept. 14: “The programs we've seen in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties this week as well as Santa Clara County a couple weeks back are good reminders of the benefits to all of UC ANR when we have strong, relevant programs in urban areas. These programs not only help the clientele, directly, but help increase the visibility of UC ANR and all of its programs across both urban and ag areas.”
On Sept. 26, Powers, Lagrimini and Bell visited UCCE Riverside, then UCCE San Bernardino the following day.
“We spent yesterday in Riverside meeting with the teams from both UCCE Riverside and UCCE San Bernardino,” Powers wrote in ANR Adventures on Sept. 27. “It was very informative, particularly seeing the fresh ideas that are coming from some of the new staff. We were able to hear about the tremendous success that both counties are having truly working as a team across program areas and layering their efforts for increased program success and support.”
Farmers, financiers, people from government agencies and nonprofit organizations who work with UC Cooperative Extension advisors, as well as beginning farmers seeking to contact their local UCCE advisors visited the UC ANR exhibit at the EcoFarm Conference Jan. 24-27 at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove.
Marketing assistant Tyler Ash apprised visitors perusing the racks of UC ANR publications of the resources available in their home counties and online.
Nearby, Alda Pires, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, and Ph.D. candidate Laura Patterson had their own booth to meet people raising small livestock and discuss their research projects. Patterson is studying pigs raised outdoors and Pires studies farming systems using raw manure as fertilizer.
“Sow Good” was the theme of the 38th annual EcoFarm Conference, which focused on regenerative agriculture.
Outside the exhibit tent, breakout sessions enlightened participants on dozens of topics from soil health to organic production practices to marketing. Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Yolo County, was one of three panelists discussing the benefits of hedgerows. Because hedgerows provide habitat for beneficial insects, fewer insecticide sprays are needed for adjacent tomato fields, according to her study. Long said the hedgerows saved growers $260 per field per year.
For backyard gardeners and urban growers, Rob Bennaton, UC Cooperative Extension urban agriculture advisor in the Bay Area, gave a talk on improving soil quality for growing food in urban areas. Before planting food crops in an urban plot, Bennaton advised the audience members to test the soil for contaminants such as lead, arsenic, chromium and mercury and to map where they sample the soil.
After listening to participants in one session discuss the efficacy of cats for rodent control – orange tabby cats were deemed most effective – one attendee remarked that meeting new people at events such as EcoFarm helps reveal opportunities for UC ANR outreach.
Downtown Oakland was the site of the biannual UC President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources (PAC) meeting on Aug. 9, which included a Q&A session with President Napolitano, program presentations from UC Cooperative Extension county directors Rob Bennaton and Igor Lacan, and updates from deans Helene Dillard (UC Davis), Keith Gilless (UC Berkeley) and Kathryn Uhrich (UC Riverside), as well as Executive Associate Dean John Pascoe (filling in for Dean Michael Lairmore, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine).
In her opening remarks, UC ANR Vice President Glenda Humiston introduced Mark Bell, the division's new vice provost for statewide programs and strategic initiatives. Bell spoke about the strength of the UC system, the diversity of programs offered by UC ANR statewide, and his plans to leverage the strong volunteer and staff base of programs like UC Master Gardeners and 4-H.
Humiston also offered updates on the division's strategic plan and the significant progress made in implementing its key goals. Associate Vice President Tu Tran then gave a presentation on the division's financial situation, which he titled “A Fiscal Plan for Success.” Tran addressed UC ANR's place in the state budget and its revenue projections through FY 2021-22, which includes significant growth in major gifts and fundraising.
Bennaton and Lacan both gave spirited and enthusiastic presentations that were received well. Bennaton, who serves as county director for Alameda and Contra Costa counties as well as UCCE urban agriculture advisor for the Bay Area, discussed the benefits of urban agriculture and the assortment of activities going on in community development, habitat restoration and youth programming.
Lacan, also a UCCE environmental horticulture advisor for the Bay Area and co-director in San Mateo and San Francisco counties, talked about the diverse and richly rewarding work he spearheads in urban forestry. His work currently focuses on sustainable management of urban trees and urban water.
During a Q&A period, the president engaged PAC members on various issues such as potential public-private partnerships that could involve UC ANR, targeted approaches to advocacy and deferred maintenance needs for UC writ large but also for UC ANR and its research and extension centers system, specifically.
The deans gave updates on research and activities occurring at their respective colleges and school.
The next PAC meeting is scheduled for December, also in Oakland.
As we wrap up 2016, I want to take a moment to thank you for everything you've done on behalf of UC ANR this year. Whether you are conducting research, organizing extension programs, teaching nutrition, leading volunteers or quietly working behind the scenes to support our various activities, your work makes a huge difference in the lives of all Californians.
In addition to those activities, many of you also took the time to give feedback to the recent strategic planning exercise, gathered to exchange ideas at the Research to Policy conference, or contributed to enhancing the UC ANR mission in many other ways. A special thanks to the folks who chaired a committee, led a program team or served as county director – having strong, passionate leaders at every level of this organization is what makes us effective.
We are continuing to grow in numbers as hiring outpaces retirements. In 2016, 29 academics joined UC ANR and three more are poised to start in 2017. We also established four new endowed chairs with matching funds from UC President Janet Napolitano, the California Rice Research Board, the California Pistachio Research Board and, recently, the Orange County Farm Bureau. Thanks to the hard work of many stakeholders – both internal and external – we identified 26 academic positions (http://ucanr.edu/sites/anrstaff/files/253192.pdf) for a new round of hiring priorities over the next two years.
At the request of President Napolitano, we've submitted a five-year plan for UC ANR that will help us operationalize the Strategic Vision 2025 in a very thoughtful and timely manner. The next step is to further develop specific action plans for implementation and ensure the financial stability to support our vision. After the winter break, we will share the plan with the UC ANR community, as well as external stakeholders, and invite additional input as we move forward.
I'm very excited about 2017! Some great groundwork has been laid this past year to further enhance our ability to deliver the UC ANR mission and enjoy new partnerships. I hope you will have a chance to relax and enjoy the holidays with friends and family and return refreshed to tackle the challenges that await us in the new year.
DANRIS-X has been updated and will eventually be replaced with the newly created Project Board for UCCE specialists and advisors. When DANRIS-X opens for reporting, users will see a reduced number of data fields and an aesthetic refresh.
Project Board will open for 2018 reporting and will have an improved user experience and simplified data entry. Special thanks to the Project Board Academic Advisory Committee and Project Team for their continued involvement. More information can be found at http://ucanr.edu/sites/anrstaff/Divisionwide_Planning/Program_Planning_and_Evaluation/DANRIS-X/.
Upcoming dates and action items:
- DANRIS-X opens Jan. 9
- All CE specialists are invited to the Zoom webinar trainings offered on Jan. 20, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., or Jan. 24, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Topics include an overview of the reporting system, what and why we report, etc.
- Actions: Complete Annual Report for FY 2016 and Annual Plan for FY 2017 by March 6, 2017, at midnight.
- DANRIS-X opens on Feb. 2
- All CE advisors are invited to the Zoom webinar trainings offered on Feb. 6, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., or Feb. 7, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Topics include an overview of the reporting system, what and why we report, etc.
- Actions: Complete Annual Report & CASA for FY 2017 and Annual Plan for FY 2018 by Oct. 30, 2017, at midnight.
If you have questions or comments, please contact Kit Alviz, Program Planning and Evaluation, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 987-0027.